20 February 2013

Law in Plain English: Gunn v. Minton

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

Gunn v. Minton

Minton was involved in a patent infringement lawsuit which he lost. He asked the court to reconsider its decision, and Minton's lawyers raised a new issue which hadn't been raised in the original suit. The court, and the Court of Appeals, denied Minton's motion (generally, if you do not raise an issue, it is considered waived--that is precisely what happened here). Minton then sued his original attorneys for legal malpractice in a state court. The state court agreed with his original attorneys that he would have lost regardless. He then appealed and claimed that the state court did not have jurisdiction to hear his malpractice claim because it was based on a patent issue (something that is considered a federal issue). The Supreme Court ruled that Minton's legal malpractice claim did not raise a substantive federal issue, and thus did not arise under federal patent law. The practical impact of this decision is that the federal issue raised in a claim must be substantial to the federal system as a whole.
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